To say that we are living through one of the most violent periods of human history would be an understatement. The scale and forms of violence we see today are no longer distant or remote spectacles that unfold on television or in newspapers. We can now see, hear and smell the violence, in our neighborhood, on our streets and in our homes. Violence has become part of our everyday; recurrent, persistent and always lurking in the corner. It affects us so we discuss it, we talk about the various conflicts that give rise to violence, we talk about injustice, we mention inequalities but in all our analytical sophistry we rarely say that men are at the centre of almost every practice of violence either as perpetrators or as victims.
From inside domestic spheres to the most public of stages men seem to resorting to violence to settle all conflicts. So, what is it about being men that propels them in the direction of violence? Why is violence becoming the chosen path to resolve disputes and conflicts, to organise protest and political activism, to settle domestic and national or global issues? And if men are at the centre of this violence then besides everything else there has to be something about the gendering process of men, of becoming men, of constructing and preserving manhood that is contributing to the violence that engulfs us.
So what is happening to the world of men? Why and how are men constructing a brotherhood of violence for themselves? We actually know very little of men’s lives. We can see and experience forms of masculinities that dominate the social landscape with their physicality, with their actions, with their words but we don’t know the mechanics of how these words become a world, a vision, coloured with aggression, with violence and with hatred. A world where institutions, cultures and relationships get informed by and through forms of masculinities that further perpetuate inequities, hierarchy and violence.
We have very little knowledge of why these dominant forms dominate in the first place. Why and how they gain an acceptance or silence other men who may not necessarily believe in violence? We know that not all men are violent, we also know that not all men are violent all the time, then what happens to men who refuse to be part of a culture of violence. These are stories that need to be discovered, lives that need to be explored, and voices that have to be heard.
The silence does not mean that there exists no other world besides the one filled with colours of violence, it just means that we have stopped hearing words that resonate with other worlds. Isn’t it about time we started hearing these other voices? Speech is often more important than actually stepping out and stopping something physically or should we say equally important and effective. So, let’s talk. Let’s talk about what men can do.